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Haunted by Halloween candy?

I have enormous sympathy for anyone who's trying to maintain a healthful diet these days, and especially for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss. It sure feels as though the decks are stacked against such efforts.

This weekend while out shopping I found myself suddenly craving a big greasy cheeseburger smothered in grilled onions. It didn't take but a second for me to realize why: I was walking past a fast-casual restaurant whose kitchen exhaust seemed to have been engineered to smell just like that burger. I had already eaten (a healthful) lunch, so I wasn't at all hungry. But it still was hard to resist the allure of that aroma. I was able to keep walking and soon put the notion of a cheeseburger out of my mind. But I can imagine a different scenario altogether, one in which I caved to my craving.

The annual pre-Halloween festival and parade at the Hammon Harwood house in old town Annapolis. Pictured, 4-year-old Adrianna Lutzio, left, proudly holds up a pack of candy that she has unearthed in a pile of straw strewn with treats for the kids to find. (Bill O'Leary / TWP)

Halloween candy may not smell enticing, but it's impossible to avoid feeling it's being shoved in your face this time of year (starting in August, when the stores loaded the first Halloween-candy shelves). As I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, it's a good idea to arm yourself against the annual assault by developing a Halloween-candy strategy to carry you through the next few weeks. You can allow yourself a single, highly satisfying indulgence -- think fun-size Snickers bar -- each day through the end of the month, for instance, being sure to compensate for the extra calories elsewhere in your day. Or you can assuage your sweet tooth with a steadier stream of lower-calorie sweets (such as Tootsie Pops), again making sure you cut back on other calories on those days.

For my part, I plan to abstain altogether. While I used to have a monster sweet tooth, it's diminished enough over the years that I can easily do without, especially since I'm trying to protect my recent weight loss. But if I still yearned for Snickers (or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups), I think I'd allow myself one a day for a few weeks. I wouldn't be inclined to keep my taste buds busy by sucking Tootsie Pops throughout the day, though that approach has a bit in common with my new-found habit of chewing gum all day long to ward off snack attacks.

There are probably as many ways to make it through Halloween season without gaining weight as there are people interested in doing so. How do you plan to handle yourself and the candy that surrounds you? Please share your tips: You might inspire another reader to give your strategy a try.

And please take a moment for today's poll!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | October 19, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity  
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I apply a stubborn contrarian position to situations like this:

When the economy is booming, I save my pennies. Since candy sales skyrocket in October, I refuse to buy any candy at all during that month. Ditto for breast cancer-related donations during Pinktober, flowers on Valentine's Day, etc.

Reminding myself that I'm "far too stubborn" to get sucked in by the marketing usually gives me the couple of minutes I need to keep walking. I can resist that temptation for just a couple of minutes, right? And that's usually all that it takes. Five minutes later, I'm busy with something else, and have probably forgotten about the treats.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 19, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

With the many options of candy, it is easy to fulfill that sweet-tooth without all the guilt. Annie's Homegrown snacks offer All-Natural Vegan fruit snacks, Yummy Earth has Organic All-Natural lollipops that are extremely delicious, and Endangered Species chocolate bars makes delicious bite-sized dark chocolate. There are so many different options without chemical food dyes, refined sugars, and artificial flavorings! Check out your local health food store for their Halloween Healthy selections, or visit the numerous online candy stores that offer natural candy!

To find Senior Care visit:

Posted by: GeriCareFinder | October 19, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

We don't care one whit about Halloween, it isn't anything to us at all. Thanksgiving is when we plan to eat more good tasting foods that we don't eat the rest of the year. So that is what we do. Doesn't matter how much candy is stocked at the stores, we pay no attention to any of it.

Posted by: kuchen | October 19, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

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